it may seem that i write a lot about my family. i promise I have real life friends, an apartment of my own, and a full time job. but there is no more entertaining an anthropological study, than the study of my families eating habits.

for example: my grandfather’s favorite foods are orange jello and sweet potatoes, yet it was my uncle who turned orange as a child.

my sister is one of the most interesting specimens: a vegetarian / wannabe vegan for 11 years, who is now a carnivore to the full extent. she will eat frog’s legs and bbq flavored alligator jerky, but has severe disabling anxiety when required to eat a piece of chicken off the bone.  it is because of her vegetarianism, and my mother’s invention of “spaghetti with tomato sauce and crumbled tofu” (i love you mum, but blech!) that caused my compulsive obsession for chicken as a teenager.
and while she’s an extremely capable young lady, she is like a college freshman when it comes to her knowledge of food and its preparation. so when i mentioned to her preparing white bean and swiss chard soup for dinner the other night, her polite response was “i would prefer to stay away from dairy tonight”. my sister, the vegetarian, thought swiss chard was a type of cheese. my mother must be so proud.

recipe: white bean swiss chard soup (adapted from smitten kitchen)

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced shallots (approximately 3 large shallots, 4 small)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 15oz cans of white cannellini beans (rinsed)
1 15 oz can of diced or whole tomatoes (puréed)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 lbs swiss chard (or any other leafy green such as kale, spinach, or baby spinach) – stems and ribs removed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs cooking sherry (optional)
parmesan cheese for garnish

1. heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium high heat until smoking. Add shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic, and mix until coated. sauté for approximately 10 minutes until tender.
2. add white wine and reduce for 5-7minutes until reduced by approximately 3/4ths.
3. add beans, pureed tomatoes, and chicken broth and mix until combined.  bring to a simmer, and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until desired consistency.
4. in a medium sauce pan, bring salted water to a boil. add chard, kale, or spinach (not required for fresh baby spinach) and blanch for 1 minute. strain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  squeeze out excess water, and chop coarsely.
5. add leafy greens (or fresh baby spinach) to pot of soup, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
6. remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and cooking sherry if desired (sharoni note: i have prepared this soup with and without the sherry. i think i prefer it without the sherry, although do note that the soup is still missing another element…perhaps a bit of heat?)
7. sprinkle with parmesan cheese, or a piece of crusty bread rubbed with garlic.
8. eat and enjoy!